Mark Watches ‘The West Wing’: S01E09 – The Short List

In the ninth episode of the first season of The West Wing, the team runs into trouble during a possible Supreme Court Judge’s nomination and when a congressman makes a damning accusation of the staff. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The West Wing.



Hey! Danny was actually kind of adorable in “The Short List”! Sure, he’s still as persistent as ever, but at least this time C.J. appeared to be far more into his advances than before. It’s kind of neat to me that my opinions can change over the course of a single episode, but that’s just how this whole style works. I only have part of the puzzle before me, and I have to make do with that. I thought it was thoughtful that Danny tried to get something for C.J. that she would like, but I found it hilarious that he didn’t even think to ask what kind of goldfish she wanted. I laughed. OH, HOW I LAUGHED. Bless this episode for the goldfish scene.


I hate him. Is that acceptable? Can I just come out and say I don’t like one second of his existence? As someone who made the decision to be sober nearly twelve years ago, I have absolutely no patience for men like Lillianfield who paint drug use and addiction as such a dichotomous issue, who have no sympathy or empathy for those who have ever suffered from an addiction, and who think it is appropriate to emotionally blackmail and threaten people for what amounts to a disease. Lillianfield’s accusation starts off as nothing more than a distraction, a way for the writers to cleverly play off of Josh’s assertion that the confirmation of Harrison is going to be a breeze. Dude, be a little more genre savvy! You should know that stating that nothing can wrong is pretty much a death sentence every single time.

Even when the writers began to explore what this meant for privacy in the workplace, I didn’t think much of it. Again, a lot of things have been brought up on this show just for the sake of discussion. It’s what The West Wing does. Except – well, that’s not necessarily true. The nine episodes I’ve seen so far are all loosely connected by a central theme in some way, even if they seem random at the time. So, “The Short List” begins by introducing the distraction, expanding upon it, and then revealing it might not be a distraction at all. God, I should have put two and two together when there were hints in the “Previously” segment. Leo’s addiction wasn’t just alcohol, and now it’s probable that Lillianfield has gotten ahold of evidence that Leo went for treatment of a “pills” addiction six years prior.

And then Bartlet has to go and say all those adorable things about how he doesn’t think much of Leo’s struggle is his business and that he supports him and Josh does that thing where he instantly jumps to defend him and reassure him that he won’t let Lillianfield take him down and then I’m doing that thing where I flail about because did you know that I love friendship a lot?


And this is how Leo’s story is a part of a larger narrative. Obviously, we’re going to see more of it in future episodes, but it’s through the vetting of Judge Harrison that the team anonymously discovers that Harrison once held some fairly damning opinions towards the right of privacy. That’s at the heart of Leo’s issue! Those files from his stay at Sierra Tucson were supposed to be private, and the violation of that privacy is what created this nightmare. So it’s entirely significant that Judge Mendoza openly supports Leo’s privacy (though he doesn’t know that this is what he’s agreeing to at the time) while Harrison is far more harsh on the subject.

I guess it’s weird to be watching this because my country just recently went through a very public and nasty confirmation process for Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Oh god, and I remember when Sonia Sotomayor (WHO I ADORE) was being confirmed back in 2009. There are a lot of striking similarities to her upbringing and what we learn of Mendoza in this episode, too! It’s a painful and absurd process in a lot of cases, and in particular, I remember how many reverse racism charges she got because people can’t read and understand context. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but regardless, WAS SORKIN PREDICTING THE FUTURE? I mean, not only are there a lot of obvious parallels between Sotomayor and Mendoza, but Sam’s line about privacy being an immediate concern of the future due to “the Internet” and “cell phones” was eerie. HOLY SHIT.

Basically, this episode was painfully thrilling, Edward James Olmos (MY HERO!!!!) is on The West Wing AND he has a mustache, and I’m so happy this script includes such glowing support of the difficult journey that both Mendoza and Leo have ahead of them. I AM SO EXCITED TO SEE MORE.

The video commission for this episode is now archived on for just $0.99!

Mark Links Stuff

– I have been nominated for a Hugo in the Fan Writer category! If you’d like more information or to direct friends/family to vote for me, I have a very informational post about what I do that you can pass along and link folks to!
I have announced what the next books I am reading on Mark Reads will be, as well as updated y’all on the events, cons, tour dates, GOING TO EUROPE OH MY GOD, and general shenaniganry going on in my life. I have a similar post up on Mark Watches, detailing the next two shows I’m doing as well as the return of Double Features, and I finally explain what happened with my Vimeo account. Check these posts out!
– If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am doing a live reading/Mark Does Stuff event at Borderlands Books on April 21st at 5pm. Come on out! I’ll have copies of my latest book to purchase and sign.
- Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
- Video commissions are open, and you can commission a Mark Reads/Watches video for just $25!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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1 Response to Mark Watches ‘The West Wing’: S01E09 – The Short List

  1. Michael says:

    So about Sorkin predicting the future, the staff on this show did a huge amount of political research. In the show’s seven seasons they bring up a lot of issues and a lot of ways they could get resolved. While they’re not perfect (because they’re not wizards) the research they did paid off. A lot of the issues they predicted really happened and were oftentimes resolved in similar ways. I’d give specific examples, but they’d be spoilers.

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